Exfoliation is a standard part of most skin care routines. It helps keep your skin looking healthy and bright while helping contain and control the signs of aging. This makes it incredibly useful for anyone conscious about their appearance. OROGOLD and others like to touch on how useful exfoliation is, but we don’t always highlight that it can come in two broad varieties. Each one has its own particular benefits that suit it to particular skin types or situations. To be fair, you can break down the two broad groups into smaller groups as well and we’ll touch on those before we’re done. We’ve decided to start with the two broadest categories though to give you a clear idea of the different types of exfoliation.
Most people are familiar with chemical exfoliation even if they don’t know that’s what to call the process. Acne-fighting cleansers and oil-control products generally include one or more chemical exfoliants. Most of the time these compounds are some variety of hydroxy acid. Glycolic, citric, and salicylic acids are popular hydroxy acids that see a lot of use. They break down oil and grime to help clean the skin. However, they also dissolve away dead skin cells without the need for constant rubbing on the skin. This gives a comparatively gentle way to exfoliation sensitive and oily skin. The lack of physical abrasion means sensitive skin shouldn’t react negatively if an appropriately potent product is chosen and the often acidic nature of the product can help control the oil on oily skin without running the risk of puncturing any acne during its use. This drying effect makes the basic forms of chemical exfoliation unsuitable for dry skin.
People often switch between referring to this kind of exfoliation as “physical” or “mechanical”. The process being described remains the same regardless of the name though. Some gritty substance, compared to a gel, is applied to the skin and carefully massaged against it to provide the exfoliation. These are often referred to as “scrubs”. Sugar scrubs are relatively popular for the face thanks to the rounded crystal structure of sugar. It is rough enough to help remove dead skin and other debris from the skin, but fine enough that it does not damage the newer skin beneath the layer of dead skin. Body scrubs often used salt or similarly rough compounds that are more abrasive than sugar thanks to the skin of the body being hardier than that of the face. OROGOLD recommends avoiding using salt scrubs on your face due to this roughness as, unlike sugar scrubs, they can easily hurt the healthy layer of skin. Physical exfoliants are good for dry skin when selected appropriately. The build up of dead skin benefits from this form of removal as it doesn’t risk drying the skin out like many chemical exfoliants.
All in the Details
Every rule enjoys an exception and the same is true in exfoliation. Chemical exfoliants are often acids, but there has been a push towards using natural extracts capable of controlling oil and providing light exfoliation without drying the skin out. These are often drawn from fruits. The use of extracts offers the further benefit that many of them are capable of infusing vital nutrients into the skin as they perform their main function. It combines two aspects of skin health into one product for greater ease of use. Additionally, sometimes sensitive skin can’t handle a chemical exfoliant. Some traditional grain powder based physical exfoliants exist. These are often combined with a little water to provide gentle physical exfoliation that hydrates as it is used. Rice powder is a fairly common recommendation due to the current trends towards emulating Korean beauty routines. There are yet other exceptions as well that you can find with a little research.
Choosing the right form of exfoliation for your skin is part of creating and perfecting your skin care routine. Your skin’s needs will change with the seasons, but you’ll find that you can maintain your core product choices for most of the year. The only time you need to change your products out significantly is typically the colder months of the year simply due to the dry air. OROGOLD hopes that this quick overview of the types of exfoliation gives you a clearer idea of your options. You should be able to find a product that suits you with this guide and be well on your way to healthier skin.